Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Pairings: Riku/Sora, Leon/Cloud, Axel/Roxas
Word count: 4507
Warnings: Romance, fluff, sap, AU, some OOC-ness, Sora-POV
Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts and its characters, nor do I own the various Final Fantasies and their characters.
Summary: For as long as Sora can remember, his best friend, Riku, has been calling him a whiny brat. It started out as a label, then a nickname, and finally, an endearment. RxS
Note: Happy birthday, auronsfan! This is all for you!
For as long as I can remember, my best friend has been calling me a whiny brat.
I was a whiny brat at 6, still one at 16, and now that I'm 26, the guy still musses up my hair whenever we meet up in the morning and says, "Morning, whiny brat." And when I pout and slap his hand away (that's for messing up my already messy hair!) in response, he barely winces anymore and the faint smile on his face never goes away. I guess you could say that Riku's an insufferable jerk sometimes, but well, we did grow up together.
Growing up on Destiny Island was fun. The people on the Island were sweet and trusting, and life was simple. On an island that was surrounded by water, it was obvious that all the kids here grew up under the sun with sand between their toes and any part of their bodies which provided that thing with a temporary refuge. Like my hair. I used to have to comb my hair inside the bathroom so I wouldn't get sand on my bed. But anyway, all the kids on Destiny Island grew up that way. It was only natural that that was how I met my eventual best friend, Riku, as insufferable as he is.
There's this little island not too far away from the beach, and according to a rumour that's been passed down from generation to generation and extremely prevalent amongst the kids, whoever dominates the island will be the leader. Well, I know it doesn't sound like much right now, but hey, we were what, 6 years old? To a bunch of kids that age, being a leader was incredible.
So obviously, being the 6-year-old that I was, I fought for that little sandbox. I was so close to getting it when Riku, the new kid who had just moved to the Island, knocked my wooden sword out of my hand. And of all places it could have landed, my poor weapon fell into the water. I never quite found it again, unless it somehow sucked water like a sponge and ballooned up to become the wooden plank I found instead. It's not too difficult to imagine my reaction then, is it? How does a 6-year-old react when he loses his toy?
He whines and cries, obviously. Big mistake.
It wasn't a few weeks after that incident that I realized Riku took first impressions way too seriously, because from then on, he would never stop calling me by his favourite nickname. By then we'd already become really good friends, so I tried to take the name-calling in good humour at first, but after a while of whiny brat this, whiny brat that… it really got on my nerves, and no matter what I said or how I whined to Riku (yes, I've noted the irony), he just simply refused to stop calling me that.
I remember running home to my mother one day after a bout of acute sensitivity, whining (yes, irony noted) to her about how Riku kept calling me a whiny brat and the name had spread to all the other kids, so I became known as Sora the whiny brat. Ah yes, my name's Sora. I forgot to introduce myself earlier, didn't I? Well, now you have it: name's Sora Strife and currently 26 years of age. But I digress.
Anyway, so I ran home that day to whine to my mom about the annoying nickname, and you know what she told me?
"Sora darling, I'm sure Riku doesn't really mean that. Sometimes, children like to call other children names because they think it's cute. It's like how you always call your train set a choo-choo. It's just another name, and Riku never says it with malice, right?"
Don't ask me how a 6-year-old is supposed to be able to differentiate between a spiteful name-calling and one that isn't, but somehow, I just knew it. Like mom said, Riku never called me a whiny brat to hurt me. It's hard to explain, but he always said it with a strange voice that was oddly… affectionate. And then he'd muss up my hair cheekily, even though he's only a year older. Riku always liked acting tough. Still does.
So I sort of resigned myself to being a whiny brat, though it still took a while to get used to. But once I realized what my brothers were going through, I thought to myself, "Hey, being called a whiny brat isn't quite thaaaaat bad."
Like my elder brother Cloud. Like me, Cloud had a friend slash rival who was a year older than himself, but the guy was… well, I guess you could say he was a little off in the hinges. Somehow, Leon –that's the guy's name- liked to nudge Cloud, even when they didn't know each other well. Mum always said their friendship started with a nudge, an annoyed 'hey', and a bow of the head. Cloud said that their rivalry started with a shove, an angry yell, and a quick dodging of his punches. According to witnesses, it was their first day in first grade, and Leon had been watching Cloud all day until he finally walked over and gave Cloud a little nudge in the shoulders. When Cloud pouted at him indignantly, Leon only hung his head sheepishly. Supposedly, this became a routine for the two of them: everyday, Leon would nudge Cloud, Cloud would pout, and Leon would bow his head but he never apologized. The two never even talked. The routine later escalated into rather epic proportions, and Leon would nudge Cloud whenever Cloud talked with and befriended someone new, and Cloud would bat his hand away.
And then there's my younger twin brother, Roxas, who had somehow become a mother duck to Axel, our neighbour's kid. It was almost funny how Axel liked to tail behind him like he was a lost puppy and then acted all cocky when Roxas finally deigned him with a glare, spinning around on his toes to yell at him to stop following him. Remember: this happened when we were all 6, so everyone around us thought Axel and Roxas were positively adorable when they did what they did. They even went as far as encouraging Axel to work hard on befriending Roxas and giving him little tips, so I guess that was where Axel later picked up his catchphrase. Sure, that whole 'got it memorized' thing was interesting the first few times, but it got old faster than cheese going bad, and soon Roxas was trying to avoid Axel and yelling that he would sooner memorize all the multiplication tables than Axel's name, which he actually already knew. It was kinda hard to not know Axel's name, actually, since he spent so much time following Roxas around.
So yeah, compared to my brothers, being called a whiny brat without any malice attached to it didn't seem all that bad. I did retaliate later on, however, by calling Riku an insufferable jerk. I remember going through the dictionary for a name that would suit Riku to the t, and once I learned how to pronounce 'insufferable', I knew it was going to be Riku's new nickname.
I think Riku winced and bit his bottom lip the first time I called him that. But after I reminded him that if he had a nickname for me, then I should have one for him too. Riku never complained after that. In fact, I think he grinned. Quite widely too, if I remember correctly.
Then Riku started to go to school, but even so, he always played with me in the afternoon and tried to make me jealous that he was learning all these new things in school and I still had to wait another year. He would pick up his wooden sword and write big words in the sand and asked me if I could read it. Most of the time, I couldn't, and he would laugh softly and teach me how to read the new word. I probably learned more new vocabulary from him than I did from my teachers later on, but that's another story for another time. If it wasn't a new word, then Riku would write out the multiplication tables and we'd memorize them together. Other times, he'd write this completely incomprehensible… thing that looked like a picture in the sand and told me that he was picking up Chinese outside of school as an additional language, and that… thing he'd drawn in the sand was a new word he'd just learned.
At those times, I seldom paid attention. Well, to be fair, I was quite intrigued on the first few occasions. To a 6-year-old, realizing that there's a language in the world that has words looking like pictures felt really incredible, I guess. But the novelty wore off after a while, and I started to whine and asked Riku to play sword fighting instead. After all, Chinese is a rare language to pick up on Destiny Island and as far as I knew, Riku was the only person I knew who was learning it. The other kids our age were either already having enough problems with first grade or they still had a year before attending school like me.
Riku was special that way. He was always brighter than the rest of us, though sometimes I secretly believed that he picked up all those extra classes solely for the bragging rights. And from that year onwards, I realized that his calls of "whiny brat" held even more affection than before.
Then one year after that, I started school too. It was mind-boggling, I tell you, but all that time spent learning new things in the sand with Riku rather than playing around like the other boys paid off. Still, I could never quite match up to Riku who was acing all his classes and took extra classes outside of school. And somehow, even with his busy schedule and me being busy with school, the two of us still managed to spend a lot of time together. Don't ask me how we did it. We just did.
Sometimes I'd hang out at his house and do homework together, and although Riku still called me a whiny brat whenever I threw my books and told off my stupid assignments angrily, he never called me stupid. And he always helped me with my assignments. In return, I always tried to help him with his assignments, but from the look on your face, I can tell you've already guessed how that went. Of course I couldn't help him with his assignments, but hey, Riku said it was the thought that mattered. The thought that matters came into play a lot whenever Riku started doing his Chinese assignments because no matter what he tries to tell me, it still looks like a bunch of drawings to me. Pretty drawings, but still drawings. And there was no way I was going to take Chinese classes too, because his teacher, Miss Ursula, really freaks me out. She has a weird habit of calling her students "poor, unfortunate souls"! There was no way I was going to become her student!
But if there's one thing I know, it's how to have fun. On those days when we finished our assignments early, we'd head down to the beach and play. Sometimes we were joined by Roxas, and Axel would inevitably follow in that stalkerish way of his. We'd play for a while before Roxas finally got mad and tried to get Axel to leave him alone, and then the whole thing would escalated into a huge argument. So me and Riku usually ditched them and made a run for our little island and spend the rest of the time by ourselves.
That was how we grew up together, and before we knew it, we were already 16. Well, I was 16. Riku was already 17, that old man. By that time, a lot of things had already changed around us. Like my brothers. Somehow, it finally, suddenly, abruptly dawned on us that Leon didn't nudge Cloud for fun or to annoy him. Or that Roxas actually seemed to like how Axel chased him around.
And as all things go, things like these always start out small. But violent. Small, but violent. Well, at least that was how what happened one day when Leon got angry at a new kid in town for hitting on Cloud. Cloud, my eldest brother if you've already forgotten, was a magnet for such things. He'd gotten all our father's handsome genes and also our mom's pretty genes, so he was quite popular in school. And despite his indignant exclamations that he's a guy and doesn't appreciate being courted, he had a number of suitors. Or at least that's what I heard. Anyway, so there was this new kid in school and he must have thought that Cloud would look absolutely pretty to hang off his arm so he stupidly flirted with Cloud a bit. No, no, no. That's not the stupid part. The stupid part is hitting on Cloud in clear view of Leon.
Now, let's get one thing clear: Leon's not Axel; he does not stalk my brother. At least I don't think so. But somehow, he always manages to be in the right place at the right time, and so he walked over to Cloud and nudged him. Unfortunately, Cloud was too busy trying to fend off the new kid so he didn't pay Leon any attention. I think that really annoyed Leon, because before that, Cloud would at least throw him an aggravated sigh or bat his hand away, but he did neither then. So when this new kid got too close to Cloud –Leon's opinion, not mine- Leon just snapped. The kid landed up in the hospital after a very 'friendly' –and I mean that with quotation marks- pat on the back and Leon got a couple of days worth of suspension from school. From then on, we all realized that Leon always nudged Cloud to get Cloud's attention. It was one of those 'hey, look at me' type of nudges, not the 'I'm going to annoy and bully you' nudge we'd all thought it was.
Things moved pretty fast after that, and before any of us realized it, Leon was starting to pull Cloud towards himself instead of nudging him and Cloud was letting him. I think he looked pretty comfy in Leon's arms too, because he hasn't left that place ever since. Well, not literally. You know what I mean, right? Right.
Roxas? Well, he was a little more difficult to crack, but with someone as persistent as Axel, it was just inevitable. One good thing about Axel was that he wasn't just persistent; he was more resilient than bacteria and more endearing than… well, bacteria! So despite all the abuse he'd gotten from Roxas, Axel never gave up, and little by little, got Roxas to get used to his omni-presence. It's odd how you can get someone to get used to a stalker, but Axel accomplished that with a perfect score. I mean, the one time when Axel got sick and couldn't follow Roxas around, I could tell Roxas felt antsy without him. After all, he's used to leaving the ice cream parlor without paying because Axel would pay for him, and Roxas never ever brought tissue paper with him when he went out because Axel would supply him with one the moment Roxas needed it.
But their real breakthrough moment came when Roxas broke an arm the day before his struggle tournament. He'd slipped and fell in our bathroom while telling me how excited he was to represent our school at the district struggle tournament. Guess what Axel did? He took Roxas' place, despite the fact that he'd never really played struggle before. Even though he missed the gold and returned only with a bronze and a whole gamut of bruises, Roxas was suitably impressed. I guess he was even more impressed when Axel gave him the bronze and apologized for not getting the gold Roxas wanted, because that was when Roxas told Axel to just shut up and kiss him. Even Axel's lame 'got it memorized' was well-received and rewarded with another kiss.
So all of a sudden, out of us three Strife brothers, I was the only one who was still single! Boy was I envious of my brothers. And honestly, can you blame me for feeling that way? I mean, Cloud and Roxas didn't have to do much to get someone head over heels for them. And here I was, slaving my butt off, putting arm and leg at risk, and doing everything I could think of, and the guy I liked still didn't have a clue.
Wait, are you really asking who the guy I like is? Are you for real? Well, okay, here's a clue: Cloud and Roxas both got together with their best friends, in a manner of speaking. Let's just say the spiky hair and blue eyes are not the only things that are passed down in the Strife genes.
Yes, the guy I like is obviously Riku, only the guy who has been around me like he's my personal oxygen tank for the past, what, 10 years? I actually have no idea how it happened, but as all things do, it just happened. It was one of those dreary days that I'd been hanging out at his house and asking him to help me with my math assignment that he sighed at me with fond exasperation and mussed up my hair and called me a whiny brat. It was that moment when the familiar nickname slipped out of his lips that I realized that, hey, I like him. I really, really like him.
Yeah, it's not as dramatic as what happened to my brothers, but well, you can't help how some things turn out.
After that realization, my life became a whole string of trial-and-error. It's easy to know what Riku likes, since I've already known him for so long, but it's difficult to predict how he'd react to the hints I dropped everywhere. Like when I'd typed him a note and dropped it in his locker to tell him I liked him –anonymous, of course; I wanted to gauge his reactions before revealing myself- and Riku threw that note away immediately, saying that he's got no fond memories of stalkers. I think Axel really got to him.
Okay, so I admit that dropping anonymous notes twenty days in a row was too much, but it was so difficult! I was worried that if I just confessed up front to him and he didn't like me that way, our friendship would crumble. Even if Riku doesn't like me, I wanted to at least keep his friendship, because seriously, it means to me more than a possible romantic relationship with him. As a friend, I could at least stay with him forever and maybe even offer him a shoulder to cry on if his relationship with his wife –when he got married, that is- had some sort of problems. Who knows? Maybe I could be his best man.
With that line of thinking, it's obvious why I never confessed to him directly, right? But it was really frustrating when Riku refused to pick up on any of the hints I was dropping left and right. And before long, everyone around me knew I liked Riku. Everyone knew, except Riku, the star of the show himself. It must be one of those cosmic rules: the guy you're trying to confess to is always the densest. Like light refracts around him type of dense.
I tried to console myself. I kept thinking to myself that, hey, Sora? Being this guy's best friend is already a luxury. Don't ask for too much. Don't be greedy. If you're greedy, you might just lose what you have. Be patient, Sora. Be patient. Besides, you and Riku already have a love language. Just like how Leon and Cloud use body language to communicate their love for each other, and how Roxas and Axel have their lame 'got it memorized' which doubles as their personal 'I love you', you and Riku have your special nicknames for each other. Riku's always calling you a whiny brat, and he's the only one who does it, so it's your unique connection with him. Sora, be content already!
It worked, for a while, until Leon and Cloud seemed to be picking out wedding bands and Roxas and Axel discussed where they would hold their wedding in the future. Well, it was more like Axel talked about where they could have a wedding, but Roxas never punched him, and when Roxas does not resort to violence, it usually means you're doing something right.
So yeah, you can imagine how depressing it was to be around my brothers in my situation.
Then one day, while I was lolling around in my depression alone on the little island, Kairi, Riku's classmate in Chinese and one of my strongest supporters who constantly encouraged me to confess to Riku, walked over to him with a strange gleam in her eyes. It's hard to describe, but I think it was a cross between disbelief and envy, mixed with a small amount of amusement.
She said, if I remember correctly, "Hey Sora. You know, we were learning how to say 'I love you' in Chinese class yesterday. Guess what it is?"
Being a total idiot in Chinese, I didn't have a clue. And instead of wasting my brain cells on something I didn't know, I tried to figure out what Kairi had in mind with that question. But of course, girls are really tough to understand, and my look of complete confusion must have been really obvious, so she took pity on me.
"It's 'wo ai ni'. If you write it out, it's like this," she said, writing the words out in the sand with a broken tree branch. "You know, when we were learning it in class yesterday, Ms. Ursula tried to give everyone goosebumps by repeating the phrase over and over again, and the speed she was saying it with! She just kept saying it faster and faster! I thought I was going to die of disgust, and I turned to Riku, because if I were to die, I wanted to at least see something pretty before I die, and Ms. Ursula is definitely not what I was looking for. Guess what? Riku was completely embarrassed and sheepish, like he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar!
"And that's when I realized: 'wo ai ni', 'wo ai ni', 'wo ai ni'… when you speak it really, really fast, it sounds a lot like a word Riku likes to use."
By then, I had the weirdest feeling in my guts, but I was still masochistic enough to ask Kairi to continue. She smiled really widely.
"Silly Sora, don't you think it sounds like 'whiny'?"
Yup, punch in the gut alright. My protests that Riku had always called me a whiny brat even before he picked up Chinese were drowned out by Kairi's claims that Riku's use of the nickname had obviously changed over the years. As a child, it had been an assertion of control of sorts, that I was his best friend and only best friends could call each other by nicknames. As a teenager, especially after Riku started to attend school, the nickname started to be said with a lot more affection and Kairi said she'd always thought that it sounded more like an endearment than anything else.
"Maybe Riku likes you more than you think," she said, and before she could say another word, I'd already left her in a trail of dust and sand. It didn't take me too long to get to Riku's house, where he'd just gotten back after his water polo club activities.
Now, on the way to his house, my mind had run up at least a dozen possibilities and likely scenarios, but the need to have his confirmation was so overwhelming at that moment that I knew I just had to ask.
"Riku, do you like me?"
Well, that's what I'd wanted to ask, but what actually came out of my mouth was: "Riku, you whiny jerk!"
At his look of surprise, my mouth, which I'm quite certain had been possessed that day by someone who was not me, ran off again, "A whiny brat and a whiny jerk. Don't you think we'd go well together?"
"Did Kairi…?" he said, but it was just too obvious what Kairi had done that there was no point in asking, so he stopped there. Then Riku looked at me. Really looked at me. I think he found something in my eyes, and I guess that sparked him to think about all the clues I'd dropped before, and that's when I think he finally got it. He grinned at me so wide I was worried his head would split where his mouth was.
And then he said, "Sounds like a perfect match to me."
"Of course it is!" I replied.
Before long, Riku and I were being voted as the cutest couple in school. I think Axel was pretty mad that we beat him and Roxas by one vote. Then… we moved on, we grew up, and now here I am, at the church, waiting for the ceremony to begin so I can get out of this stuffy room and walk down the aisle to him.
Miss cleaner, thanks for listening to me ramble about our story for so long! I'm sorry for holding you up, but I'm just so nervous right now I could just faint and I really needed someone to talk to! Yes, the news of Riku also panicking in the other room does make me feel better. At least I know I'm not the only one who's getting nervous. I think I'm starting to understand how Cloud and Roxas felt on their wedding day, and oh, to think I laughed at them. They would so give me the best 'I told you so' if they see me right now, so I guess I'm lucky they've already gone outside, huh?
Well, I think that's Roxas calling for me to get out. Is it time already? Time passes really fast when you're chatting, huh? Anyway, thanks again for listening to my rambling! I really feel so much better now. See you later at the ceremony!
Oh, you won't be attending? You have to work now? Oh, I'm so sorry to have held you up!
Yeah, thanks! I'm sure I'll have a happy marriage! A whiny one, in fact.
Okay, Roxas is going to get mad if I don't get out now, so bye!
A/N: My second RikuSora fic, and probably my last. XDD It's so hard to write for them. In any case, please leave a review if you enjoyed this fic! Many thanx in advance, and that keeps my muses happy and sated, which translates to more fics. It's a win-win situation, right? XD